Warning of care neglect revelations
Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces calls for aged-care funding to “keep pace” with the burgeoning demand for services after he told Australians to brace for “bruising” revelations from a royal commission on the sector.
Announcing the inquiry into residential and in-home care yesterday, Mr Morrison said that the “very disturbing trend” of noncompliance, neglect and abuse uncovered by the country’s new aged-care cop — the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission — had moved him to act.
The Department of Health has closed one aged-care service a month since the Oakden nursing home in South Australia was shut last year after horrific evidence of neglect and mistreatment of residents emerged.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said WA had fared “reasonably well” in comparison to other States but was not immune from the issues in the sector.
As providers grapple with how to care for the nation’s ageing population, Mr Morrison dismissed suggestions that Federal Government budget cuts to the sector had contributed to its problems.
He argued funding for aged care had increased, with new compliance measures put in place to ensure that public funds were not misused.
“You put a cop on the beat, you’re going to find the problems,” Mr Morrison said.
“I think we should brace ourselves for some pretty bruising information about the way our loved ones, some of them, have experienced some real mistreatment.”
The terms of reference for the inquiry are yet to be confirmed, but the commission will focus on quality of aged care and issues of substandard care, the challenges of providing care to young people with disabilities in residential aged care and supporting the increase in prevalence of dementia.
It will also look at future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged-care services.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has previously claimed there is a “national crisis” in aged care, said the inquiry needed to look not only at individual cases of mistreatment but also at “fundamental, systemic problems”.
“It’s got to be everything,” he said.
“Staff, training, funding, making sure people get the care that they deserve.”
Industry group Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said the royal commission had to identify how to make Australia’s aged-care system better, and that work on addressing key workforce and funding issues must continue simultaneously.
United Voice, the union representing aged-care workers in WA, said recent Government funding injections did not make up for the “billions” previously stripped from the sector and a royal commission would “add little” to the numerous aged-care reports and reviews already done.